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January 13, 2010

I'm Not The Resolutionary Kind (Jan. 3, 2010)

The original intention of this blog was to state my resolutions for the new year. To tell you the truth, I don't really agree with resolutions. Especially if you plan on starting them January 1st. Who actually sticks to them for more than a month anyway? I guess some people do, but they're definitely not the norm.
I purposely started my weight loss program before the holidays and before the new year.
In previous years, I would write out my ridiculous little list. It was always FAR too ambitious and typically looked something like this...
1. Lose 100 lbs.
2. Go to the gym every day for at least 2 hours
3. Journal every day
4. Call my mom every day
5. Floss twice a day
6. Volunteer at the soup kitchen every day on the way home from the gym
7. Run a marathon
8. Bring peace to the world
9. Get The Smiths back together
10. Write my memoirs

I would do great for the first month or so. Then I'd get lazy or something would come up, preventing me from fulfilling my daily duties. One by one, my resolutions would dissolve into thin air. I couldn't just revise my list and start over again tomorrow. The year was ruined!
So, I'd settle back into my regular routine, re-introduce my butt to the couch and wait again until next year. Dumb.
It always made me feel like a failure and I'd slip into a funk. WHY am I so weak willed? WHY can't I stick to my goals? Beating myself up always included a calorie fest and a whole lot of inactivity.

Which makes me think of something that happened recently...
My husband has smoked cigarettes off and on for the last decade. All of his friends smoke, so he'll bum a few here and there. After a while he'll break down and buy his own pack. He knows I hate when he smokes and feels slightly guilty for doing so. I gave him "the eye" sometime last week when I saw him pull a pack out of his pocket, but didn't say anything because it's his health after all. As he lit up, he said "This is my last pack, I swear. Only two cigarettes left in the pack."
I thought that if he threw out the last two cigarettes and stopped right then and there, he would prove to himself that he was serious about stopping. Why does he have to smoke the last two, knowing that he plans on quitting?

I've been on SparkPeople now for more than 15 weeks now. In that time, I've lost more than 30 lbs. Eating within my range is now second nature to me and the cravings for fatty foods are pretty mild. I'm not saying this will always be true. I'm just REALLY tired of not being happy with my weight. I am FINALLY truly ready. I'm not giving myself a chance to go back to the way things were. It's no longer an option. It doesn't take hours a day in the gym or eating twigs and berries. It can be done simply by making wise choices and moving a bit each day. If I eat an entire cheesecake because I have a craving I can no longer ignore, then I'll jump right back onto the wagon the next day. It doesn't have to be on a Monday or the first of the month or January 1st. It just has to happen right away.
The weight loss is going to happen, so that is no longer really a "goal" for me. So, instead of a list of resolutions, I've compiled a list of things I look forward to doing in 2010

- Running my first 5k (in Feb.) and possibly my first 10k (later in the year of course)
- Being able to see my feet in the shower
- Seeing the scale read 150 lbs.
- Shopping for clothes in any store besides Lane Giant
- Less back and feet pain

I'm sure that I will be adding to this list over the next few months.
Goals are nice to have, for sure. But since I'm not giving myself a choice to NOT lose weight, it no longer feels like a "goal".

How We Operate (Dec. 22, 2009)

Two years ago, life was good. My husband and I owned a small advertising agency in downtown Sacramento. Although the hours were long, it afforded us a reasonably comfortable lifestyle. We purchased a new home and a new car. We ate out pretty much all the time.
One thing about owning your own business is that you need to know what you're doing when it comes to the financial side of things. We did not. Instead of hiring someone to figure that stuff out for us, we decided to wing it. We kept telling ourselves... "Starting next month, we are going to buckle down, limit our spending and start chipping away at our business debt."
"Next month" kept getting pushed back. After about a year, we had dug ourselves into an enormous hole. Once we realized how bad it had gotten, we buckled down, limited our spending and started chipping away at our debt.
Then the housing market crashed and the economy took a huge hit. Our clients had to cut back on advertising and one by one, they all went away. In one week, we lost 3 major accounts. Since we had no money set aside for this type of thing, we had to close the doors. Our dream of business ownership was dead in the water after only 2 and a half years.
My husband was able to find a job right away, but I was not. Our income was now substantially less than it was only weeks earlier. And since so many people were having to deal with unemployment, the jobs I applied for had hundreds of people vying the same position.
Living high on the hog had come back to bite us on the butt, BIG TIME.
Our bills started falling behind. We struggled to hang on to our house but it eventually went into foreclosure. Our business and tax debt are insane.
This is not a "poor me" blog. Believe me, we deserve every bit of what we got for not planning ahead. But believe it or not, I'm happier now than I was before everything fell apart. The way we were handling our finances was the same way we were dealing with our weight and health.
"We'll start next month" Keeps playing over and over in my head. We wasted so much time! Our 20's and 30's were spent being overweight and out of shape. We will never get those years back.
Amid our world crashing down around us, we decided "Hey! Let's start a diet!" Great timing, right?
These last 4 months have been some of the most stressful of my entire life. Not working drives me absolutely insane. (I'm a stress and boredom eater by the way)
If I can devote myself to eating better, exercising, losing weight and getting fit NOW, then I believe I have a fighting chance at reaching my weight loss goal and keeping it off for good.
Life is good.

January 12, 2010

Where Is My Mind? (Dec. 16, 2009)

Here we go. (Yep. Here we go.)
Are you sure you wanna bump it up to level 5 today? (Yes, I'm sure.)
OK, hot shot. Let's see what you can do.
Awwww! Your iPod fell on the floor and it's only been 4 minutes. Do you want to stop? (No.)
Sweating already? (That's a good thing.)
Your left knee is hurting pretty badly. Maybe you should stop. (No flippen way.)
Ten minutes. You're a third of the way done. Maybe there's hope for you afterall. (I told you I'm serious.)
It's hard to do this without music, isn't it? (I'm trying to concentrate. Please shut up.)
You keep looking at the clock. Is that helping the time go by faster? (Just the opposite.)
It's been 15 minutes. Are you ready to stop and give that knee a rest? (No!)
Wow, Erin. You're doing really well. (But I hurt.)
You can do this. (What if I can't?!)
If you give up now, I don't ever want to hear about your dream of completing a marathon again.
3 miles in a half hour is nothing! People who run marathons can do what you're doing right now with 2 legs tied behind their backs. Suck it up! (But I've never done this before.)
Come on, Erin. I believe in you. (Why?!)
Because you want this. (I really do!)
Only 3 minutes to go. (I feel like I'm going to throw up!)
You won't.
2 minutes. (Oh, God!)
1 minute. Come on, girl! (Come on, girl.)
5, 4, 3, 2, 1
You did it!! (I did it!)

Before & After Pictures... 3 Months On SparkPeople/30 Lbs. Lost (Dec. 11, 2009)

I always lose weight in my face first. My body (especially my stomach) takes a while to catch up.

It takes a big ol' bunch of balls to post these, but I'm proud of my progress over the last 3 months. So, yeah. lol

Going Out East (Dec. 11, 2009)

When I first signed on to this whole losing weight mumbo jumbo, one of the first thoughts I had was, I can't wait for my family to see me thin.
I've been overweight for most of my adult life. I had a baby when I was 18 and gained a lot of weight with my pregnancy. After my son was born, I hovered around 180 for about 8 years. After that, I went up to about 230 and stayed there for a couple more years.
Then I joined Weight Watchers and lost around 40 lbs. The weight wasn't coming off fast enough, so I looked around and found Body For Life. B4L was wonderful and I quickly dropped 80 lbs. When I was almost to my goal weight, my husband and I separated. This caused me to put everything on hold, including my weight loss. The weight gradually crept back on, where it stayed for the next 6 years. In the meantime, my husband and I got back together. Which brings us to today. Well, 3 months ago.
My mom and dad were hippies in the late 60's and actually met during The Monterey Pop Festival. My dad was from Massachusetts and had hitchhiked from there to CA. They hit it off and after my father hitchhiked back East to attend Woodstock, he decided that he would go back to CA to fetch my mom. They married, had me and about a year later decided to separate. My mom and I moved back to CA, my dad stayed in MA.
Growing up, I would visit my dad and that side of the family during the summers. Eventually, my father would give me a little brother. I always hated the fact that my brother and I didn't grow up together.
As an adult, every time my family in MA has seen me, I've been overweight. Weight has never been an issue with anyone on that side of the family, so I always felt really self conscious around them. I know you're not supposed to feel that way around people who love you, but I couldn't help it.
So, one of my biggest incentives to lose weight is for my family back East to see me thin. I want a picture of me and my brother that I'll be proud to frame. I want to hug my father and not feel like an amazon (he's tiny).

Reasons For Change (Dec. 5, 2009)

So, last night I decided to write a blog. It's been a while and these blogs have actually been a great way for me to work on the mental part of my weight loss.
I typed away and edited my little masterpiece for close to two hours.
When I was about ready to wrap things up, I heard a small pop and all of the electricity in my neighborhood went out. I sat there in the dark for a second while the realization of losing my work washed over me. Are you #*&%$ kidding me?
Instead of rewriting last night's blog, I thought that I'd share a list that my husband and I wrote up just before deciding on changing our lives forever.
I think we were stuck in the car, waiting for our daughter to get out of school when we started brainstorming. It's a bit redundant in parts, but here is what we came up with...

(Reasons We Eat Too Much)
oral fixation
social activity
food "high"
going too long without eating
not wanting to hurt the cook's feelings

(Reasons We Eat Crappy/Unhealthy Food)
little mess to clean up
can eat on the go
we're impatient

(Why We Fall Off The Diet Bandwagon)
results coming too slow
no money for healthy foods
events that revolve around eating/holidays
feeling of deprivation
taking time off of dieting turns into not dieting at all
the easy way out
hard to get back on track

(How We Feel When We Eat Unhealthy Foods Or Eat Too Much)
self loathing
bad influence on the kids
feeling that kids are ashamed of us

(The Way We Feel When We've Lost 20+ Lbs.)
more attractive/sexier
less achy
more willing to be out in public

(Important Reasons To Lose Weight)
save money
better looking
feel better
role model for kids
long life expectancy
do more things
sex life
less strain on healthcare system
less medications

(Personally, I'm Fat Because)
I'm addicted to being lazy
I've given up
I make poor choices regarding food and activities
I don't exercise
I don't cook at home
I'm not prepared with good foods
I have too many excuses
I enable my husband and he enables me
I eat when I'm bored or depressed
I eat even when I'm full
I don't plan out my menus and try to stretch my grocery dollar
I allow myself to be inactive and overweight
I don't care enough about my health and appearance

Not that this list was a huge revelation or anything. I just noticed that the word "depression" kept popping up. I've always thought of myself as a happy-go-lucky person most of the time and this made me realize how miserable my weight was making me.
It's only been three months since we wrote this list and I haven't even lost half of the weight that I intend on losing. But over the last three months, I haven't felt depressed at all. Simply changing my mindset, eating healthy foods and moving my body has changed me more than I realized.

The Non-Runner's Marathon Guide For Women (Nov. 17, 2009)

I'm not really sure why I've always wanted to complete a marathon, I just have. Maybe it's simply proving to myself that I can do it? Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment?
Running is kind of a strange hobby when you think about it, but for some reason, I envy those people. Them in their cute little running outfits, listening to their iPods, sweating up a storm while they run around in circles at the local park. There's definitely something zen about it.
Well, I'm no where NEAR being able to run a marathon at this point in my life. I have spent the last two decades eating the wrong foods and sitting on my butt a whole lot. I've got some serious damage to undo. I am working on it, but unfortunately, 80+ pounds does not miraculously melt away over night. Bummer, hu?
While I eat my weight in carrot sticks and walk my little heart out, I decided to look for a marathon training book at Barnes & Noble. I looked under "diet/nutrition" and "health" but couldn't find anything! The B&N book guru led me over to the "sports" section and there they were. Apparently, running is a sport! Who knew?
Most of the books were completely out of my league (like running a marathon isn't!). The one that really stood out to me was called "The Non-Runner's Marathon Guide For Women" by Dawn Rais.
Non-Runner. That's me!
I want to run, I just never have before. Not even in high school. I was always the last person to finish the quarter mile warm up that we were all forced to do. It's not that I was overweight back then, I just was NOT physically active. Never have been.
Anyhow... I bought the book and gobbled it up in 2 days. It's wonderfully written and insightful. Full of self-deprecating humor and sarcasm. Very much my speed.
Even though she scares the hell out of me with talk of excruciating pain and toenails falling off. (wha???) She also inspires me and helps me to believe that some day I too will be able to complete a marathon.

Maybe It Does Amount To A Hill Of Beans (Nov. 11, 2009)

When my husband and I started up on SparkPeople about 8 weeks ago, we figured out how many pounds the two of us needed to lose. I took the combined number and counted out that many beans to put in a jar. Every Monday, he and I weigh in and if we've lost any weight, we take that many beans out of the jar.
It's kind of a cool little visual to help us see the progress we're making. So far, we have only had to ADD beans once. And that was after a weekend in wine country for our anniversary.

The Seven Week Itch (Nov. 10, 2009)

I guess it happens to everyone at some point. The weight loss isn't happening as quickly as I hoped it would. But I DO know why. I'm not exercising enough... period.
I'm doing really well with the food. My cravings haven't been bad at all. Since the time change, my routine of walking around the neighborhood has come to a screeching halt. I don't live in the greatest neighborhood, so walking in the dark isn't very safe. It's dark when I leave for work, it's dark when I get home. My house is a huge mess of boxes (we're moving) and there are too many people hanging around (teenagers) to jazzercise in front of the tv. We couldn't afford to keep the gym, etc.
A million excuses. I know I need to MAKE it happen, but I'm feeling the depression that comes with halted progress.

I'll Start Again On Monday (Nov. 4, 2009)

This blog entry isn't me being preachy. It's more like me talking to myself. Most of my blogs will be like that. It's therapeutic to get these thoughts down. I'm no expert. I'm just trying to figure out how I got here and how I can continue to change my life for the better.

The last seven or so years have been a series of false starts for me and my husband.
"We'll start on Monday." should have been tattooed on our foreheads.
Do you ever pig out on unhealthy foods with the notion of it being your last "free" meal before starting a new diet?
We would drive all around town to create the perfect spread. Del Taco's deluxe chili cheese fries, Gunther's coffee ice cream sundae, Trader Joe's cheesecake, KFC's BBQ wings... Then when you are so full you can barely move, you swear that you're ready to make the change. Of course you're ready to make the change right then and there. Food isn't very appealing when you're moments from slipping into a food coma.
You start your new diet on Monday and do really great up until around Thursday. You then get lazy and skip the gym and find yourself eating a bunch of stuff you shouldn't. You think to yourself "Well, this week is ruined! I'll just have to start over on Monday."
That's where most of my weight came from. For some reason I thought that each week had to be perfect. I set unrealistic goals.
Usually when I gave in to that cookie or whatever it was, I'd be so mad at myself for "falling off the wagon" that I'd eat 2 dozen cookies instead of just one or two. I'd get to the point where I was full, but I kept stuffing my face. It's kind of a numbness that takes over. I keep thinking to myself "Some day soon, I'll do this right. Until then, I'm just going to shovel it in until my brain tells me to stop."
Most diet plans concentrate on eating right and exercising. Honestly, the most important thing is changing the way you think.
We are addicts. AA doesn't just tell people to stop drinking... They help people to find out why they drink so they can change their behavior.
We need to quit beating ourselves up for going way over on our calories on any given day. It's going to happen. Alcoholics don't HAVE to drink. However, humans DO need to eat.
Hopefully we can recognize what's happening before it gets out of hand. "Am I eating because I'm bored?". "Am I eating because I'm lonely?" Write this stuff down. I'm sure you'll begin to see a pattern.
When you do end up eating a bunch of high calorie foods... Start over again tomorrow or better yet, your next meal. Waiting for Monday leaves far too much time to do major damage to your progress.
Enter your daily nutrition. No matter what!! If you have it in your mind that you are going to eat whatever you want today, log it all in. You don't have to scroll down and look at your total calories. Save that for another day, when you're staying on track. You can look back and see those numbers and hopefully it will help you to do better in the future.

It's Not Rocket Surgery. Or Is It? (Sept. 30, 2009)

Well, my husband and I are half way through our third week. We haven't had fast food, haven't gone over our daily caloric goals, and haven't had to eat out... Until now.
My father-in-law lives by himself and really enjoys cooking for other people. He invited us over for dinner tonight. My husband warned him ahead of time that we are now eating right and trying to lose weight, and he agreed to make something healthy for us.
Normally, my father-in-law cooks the most amazing but extremely fattening foods. Lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, pie, etc. For our dinner, he mentioned that he bought fresh crab meat. I love crab!!
So, we show up for dinner. I knew it was a bad sign when I saw the towering pile of freshly cut sourdough bread sitting next to a cube of real butter.
The fresh crab meat was added to a huge salad (sounds healthy) that was topped with 3 cups of homemade Thousand Island dressing. Really?
We didn't want to hurt his feelings, so we each ate maybe a half of a cup of the salad and one piece of bread without the butter.
Are we supposed to hibernate for the next year while we lose the weight and build up our will power? This is supposed to be a way of life from now on. Not a diet.
I thought we handled it ok. We could have just given in and considered it a "free" meal. But I knew that this wouldn't be the last time we would be faced with something like this. Living in the real world with commercials and billboards and restaurants everywhere, this is not going to be easy. I need to think about all of the things that WILL be easier... walking up a flight of stairs, taking my dogs for a walk, fitting into cute clothes, SHOPPING FOR CLOTHES!!
That makes me smile.

That's 44 Sticks Of Butter! (Sept. 28, 2009)

I've lost 11 pounds so far since starting this journey 2 weeks ago.
And because 1 lb. is equal to 4 sticks of butter, I've lost an equivalent of 44 sticks of butter. That always sounds far more impressive.
Realistically, I've lost about 44 sticks of water, but still.
The food part hasn't been very tough at all. There was one moment though, when I drove by Ford's Burgers and craved a banana milkshake (my cryptonite). That feeling stayed with me for maybe 10 minutes. No biggie.
Exercise has been a problem. I still do not have the energy or drive to do anything physical. At least on a regular basis.
My goal for October is to walk, run or bike 100 miles. Think I can do it? Wish me luck! :)

So, That's Where My Kitchen Is! (Sept. 23, 2009)

Mmmmmm fast food. It's convenient, it's cheap, the kids love it, you can eat it in the car (dangerous as that may be), the commercials are constantly telling us we NEED it, and you don't have to do the dishes afterward. It's perfect for the family on the go! Right?
Kind of like cigarettes, we know fast food is bad for us. Yet, again like cigarettes, it's a multi billion dollar a year industry.
It's actually pretty sickening how many ads we are subjected to daily that tell us to eat fast food, fatty desserts, gluttonous portions, etc. When's the last time you saw a commercial for broccoli? And then society has the nerve to make us feel bad for being overweight. Anyhow...
I'm completely guilty of being a part of the flock. On an average day, I'd have Del Taco for breakfast, Carl's Jr. for lunch, Wendy's for dinner and I'd always stop at Starbuck's or Peet's for my iced venti caramel macchiato (sp?).
On one of these average days, I'd consume anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 calories.
And worse yet... I fed my kids the same way.
I know how miserable I am, being overweight and unhealthy. And for their entire lives, I've been teaching my kids how they too can lead an unhealthy life like mine.
Now, I'm not going to beat myself up. What's done is done. The only thing I can do now is to start reversing the damage. Where to start?
My husband and I started our "new way of life" a little over a week ago. We've been grocery shopping a few times to stock up on healthy foods. I'll admit, it's not cheap to eat healthy. But my refrigerator has never looked more impressive.
We bought containers for pre-made meal portions and left overs.
And we began cooking and preparing real food in our kitchen on a daily basis for the first time in yeeeeears.
Last night, I made BBQ'ed chicken breast and asparagus stir-fry with couscous. It was fabulous! It must have taken me a total of a half hour to make it.
As I began cooking however, my teenaged daughter walked into the kitchen and threw a Lean Cuisine in the microwave. I thought she'd be happy to be eating a real meal for a change, but she didn't want to wait for dinner to be ready.
A four minute wait for food as opposed to a thirty minute wait. I didn't really think that all of our bad habits would change over night, but it made me realize how addicted we are to convenience. This will take some getting used to.

Umm, OK. I'm A Moron. (Sept. 19, 2009)

Today is day 6! Yay me!!
I've done a pretty good job about staying on track with my food. One of the days I did go over my calorie limit, but that was because I had one more piece of whole wheat bread than I should have.
I've only added exercise to my daily regime over the last 2 days. My dogs are completely psyched to see what the world looks like outside of our backyard. Google says that I only burned 100 calories in a half an hour walking the dogs. Well, Google, unfortunately my dogs are not used to being on a leash. And one of them is a puppy. Soooo... I'm going to double that number. Trust me, 200 calories is still being conservative.
And then there's the water. Ahem.
I have the world's tiniest bladder to begin with. The taste of water (or lack thereof) does not bother me at all. I actually prefer water to soda. But drinking 8 glasses of water a day is asking a lot of me.
The small bladder makes it impossible to go anywhere. I can't be away from the bathroom for more than a half hour (mayyybe a whole hour). When watching The Biggest Loser the other night, I had to pause it 3 times to use the bathroom. It's ridiculous.
Well, this morning my husband explained to me that the glasses I have been using are actually 16 ounces. Doh! I'm a semi-intelligent person, but for some reason, I didn't know what 8 ounces looked like.
Basically, I've been struggling to choke down 16 glasses a day.
Needless to say... I don't think I'll have a problem with my daily water goal anymore.

Weight Loss Blogs-The First 3 Days (Sept. 15-17, 2009)

Day #1 - Today wasn't too bad at all. Because I'm not in the habit of eating right, I kept forgetting that I was trying to stay on track. I would think about getting ice cream on the way home or drinking some of the sugary lemonade that I have sitting in the refrigerator. But I didn't. Luckily I remembered the promise I made to myself before I put anything bad in my mouth.
The evenings are hard. That's when the cravings kick into high gear. Tonight wasn't too bad, but I did open the fridge a couple of times just to look.
I need to get better about drinking my water. Eating right and drinking lots of water seems to give me indigestion. I HATE that!! Must invest in TUMS.
No, I didn't exercise at all. That's another thing that I need to work on.
3 out of 5 stars

Day #2 - This morning I woke up with a headache. That's actually pretty common for me, but it made the first part of my day kinda crappy.
My husband made me scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast (we used to stop at Del Taco every morning for burritos and coffee). He also packed my food for me to take to work. My food plan includes 6 small meals a day, eaten about 2-3 hours apart. I was supposed to eat again at around 10:00 this morning but didn't eat until about 12:30. Then I ate again at 3:00 even though I wasn't all that hungry.
I didn't eat again until 8:30! After work, we went to the grocery store and bought a TON of healthy foods. By the time I got home, I was STARVING!!! I drank a big glass of orange juice and ate a banana to tide me over until dinner was done.
Didn't go walking today like I had planned. Tomorrow FOR SURE! (wish me luck)
Oh, and we bought a scale today. Ugh

Day #3 - Well, I did better on my water today. Just one glass short of making goal.
I didn't exercise, yet again. Didn't I swear that I would today in yesterday's blog? LAME!
My calories did go over today by about 100. It's the bread that's killing me. I had 4 pieces. It's open faced sandwiches from now on!
It's 10:30 at night and I'm hungry. That's not good. But I don't want to eat this late. Guess I should go to bed. Goodnight everyone! =)